From Fourth International, vol.3 No.4, April 1942, pp.126-127.
Transcribed, Edited & Formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for the ETOL.
The Remaking of Italy
Penguin Books, England. September, 1941. 287 pages. 25c.
This work merits our attention because it claims to present “a definite program for the Italian reconstruction which must follow an Allied victory.” The five anonymous authors, “who write the Italian language programs broadcast from England,” include four native Italians exiled in Britain and an English officer. In short, here are the plans of Churchill-Roosevelt vis-à-vis Italy.
In the Introduction the quintet claims the book is written in the faith “... that Great Britain has always been the true friend, and Germany the real enemy of Italy that the war in which Italy now finds herself on the wrong side gives Italians an opportunity to shake off the tyranny under which they have languished, restore good relations with the Anglo-Saxon democracies and clear Italy’s name from dishonor.”
The book is divided into five parts, of which the first four present a history of Italy and of the rise of fascism written from an Anglicized, idealized, social-democratic and antiseptic viewpoint that grates raspingly on one’s sensibilities. The sugary prose recalls Engels’ criticism of the Italian bourgeois revolutionists for their “poverty of ideas and wealth of phrases.”
It is Part Five of the book – Italy After Fascism – which really interests us. Here in 23 pages is set forth the program of the United Nations and of the Italian bourgeoisie for their “rebirth” of Italy.
From beginning to end the program is a vain and sorry swindle. Like Mussolini’s original program of March, 1919, it abounds in radical phrases; and like Mussolini’s program, it bears the stigmata of reaction and insincerity in every line. The program is demagogic and evasive precisely because it is a bourgeois program, the program of terrified people who realize that once Mussolini’s dictatorship has fallen, “the social problems of our century will return and will break out once again in full strength, clamoring for solution.” The authors want to decoy the Italian workers and peasants away from the only genuine path for the masses, the Leninist path of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The authors hasten to assure their readers that “we must wipe out from the beginning the plague of class struggle, ruinous alike to the interests of production, to spiritual interests, and to Christian brotherhood.”
It is necesary to examine and analyze carefully the types of demagogy which the “democratic” capitalists are preparing in an effort to head off the proletarian revolutions in Europe.
How is Mussolini to be overthrown, according to the Italian who work with the Churchill government? Not by the Italian masses, but by Allied bayonets, of course.
Then what? “Reform will begin with the restoration of freedom of association, freedom of professional organization, and freedom of the press, and with the substitution of a republican guard (police) for the Fascist militia and police.” These “revolutionists” call for life-time tenure for judges, elimination of the monarchy and of “certain sections of the Catholic Church,” a legislative assembly “elected by universal suffrage and secret ballot” which “would keep up the character and the functions of a democratic Parliament on the English model.”
Foreseeing that such a program will hardly enlist the sympathies of the Italian masses who were tricked by that sort of a regime once before, Churchill’s propagandists proceed to play a stream of radical phrases around the “demand” that the ownership of the factories and the land should pass into the hands of the workers and peasants. No less than thirteen formulations are presented for this, end the numerous modulations reveal that the authors have no intention of carrying out such a demand.
On page 265 it is categorically asserted that “there is no other road but the one which the working classes want: to give the land to those who till it ... to give the factories to the workers.” Knowing very well that possession of the factories and the land can only be retained by the masses through a workers’ state, Pentad says: ‘The solution we propose envisages the transfer of the means of production to the workers (not to the State) and a system of non-bureaucratic planning” (p.268). This is socialism-Plus-Coupon-clippers and their banks: “The expropriation of the land and the factories will he subject to a compensation in favor of the owners” (p.269). This one would mean competing producers’ cooperatives: “The solution can be found only by giving the ownership of the means of production to the workers, through the medium of self-controlled private enterprise” (p.273). The agrarian revolution evaporates into a purchase-plan: “The peasants of Italy should get the land in one blow, at the moment when the dictatorship falls” (p.275). But “the metayer, the small tenant farmer, the part-proprietor, the lease-holder, and in general all who cultivate the land by their own labor, and that of their families, will acquire ownership of the land they cultivate, with the obligation of paying the former owners a reasonable rate of compensation” (p.276). “In view of the preponderance of the smaller industries in the Italian industrial structure, general socialization would provoke a terrible disorganization of production, a very serious reduction in the standard of living of the population, and an enormous amount of unemployment” (p.278). And so on.
Praying for small peasant proprietors as a counterweight to the proletariat – the classic wish of all would-be Bonapartists, they suggest that the land be divided “into small holdings” – because this “accords with the real wishes of the cultivator,” and also – here is a really brazen invention – “corresponds with the most recent developments in agriculture – contrary to what has been found in industry, where the law of concentration prevails.”
In place of world socialism, the bourgeois democrats endorse the plan of Hugh Dalton for a new League of Nations and for the reaffirmation of the Kellogg Pact outlawing war – that is, Churchill and his Italian counterparts dare to dangle yet again before the people the same ragged devices that failed to prevent the first and second World Wars.
Instead of pressing for the freedom of the colonial peoples, these Italians propose that “The resources of the African continent, excluding the Union of South Africa, the United Provinces, and Egypt [that is, excluding England’s colonies], should be open to all the European nations and developed in common, according to the ability and capacity of each, but with financial resources accessible to all, so that the economic interests of the European nations, linked in the great work of colonization, would strengthen the spiritual and political ties between all the nations of our continent.”
The Italian bourgeoisie don’t want VERY MUCH – just the natives of Africa to exploit, and capital with which to do it!
Do our forward-looking authors propose to outlaw members of Mussolini’s bloody fascist regime? Not at all. While it is true that “if the Italian people wish to restore good relations with England ... they must overthrow the Fascist regime at the earliest opportunity, this does not mean that every Italian whose name has been inscribed on the roll of the Fascist party is forever barred from public life. Prudence is one of the cardinal virtues as well as courage, and there are many degrees of subscription to Fascist doctrines.”
The authors mercifully forget Winston Churchill’s proclamation to the Italian Fascists in January 1927 that “If I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”
Words, words, words – slippery, evasive, empty, calculated only to conceal their desire to maintain the privileges and profits of the bourgeoisie – that is all that Churchill and his Italian co-thinkers have to offer the noining Italian revolution. Likewise Mussolini, in an effort to divert the masses and to combat Churchill’s propaganda, has himself inaugurated a campaign to return to the earlier radical demagogy of Fascism, according to Professor Lingelbach writing in the December 1941 Current History.
But the future of Italy lies not in Mussolini’s hands, nor in ‘Hitler’s, nor in Churchill’s, nor in the hands of the Italian bourgeoisie. The Italian masses will not be satisfied with words.
It was Trotsky’s hypothesis that the anti-Fascist revolution in Italy, after beginning from one or another sectional clash, will inevitably go through the stage of the general strike. Only in this way, he thought, will the present disjointed Italian proletariat once again feel itself as a united class and match the strength of the enemy’s resistance. It is certain that once the workers of Italy reassemble in their own organizations they will make short work of Mussolini and the dictatorship of Big Business. In their march to liberation they will not stop at bourgeois “democracy,” that democracy which ‘betrayed them so savagely in the early 1920s.
Churchill and the Italian bourgeoisie, fearful of the awful upheaval that is stirring in the depths of Italy, invoke the name of the phrase-monger Mazzini. The Italian masses will march under the banner of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, to the socialist revolution.
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Last updated on 19.8.2008